Why I shelved retirement plan -Toriola

Nigerian veteran table tennis player, Segun Toriola, has said motivation from stakeholders made him to rescind his earlier decision to quit international career after the Rio 2016 Olympics.

Toriola, it will be recalled, became the first African to compete at seven Olympics and was honoured by the the International Table Tennis Federation (ITTF) for this feat in Rio.

Toriola, while speaking in Lagos, defended his decision to continue to don the national colours at 41.

“I had resolved to retire from the national team after the Rio Olympics but the motivation I received from people including members of the federation (Nigeria Table Tennis Federation) urging me to continue influenced my decision to shelve the plan. I have to continue and put in my best.

“I never knew I could make up to seven Olympics after my debut at Barcelona ’92. I targeted the second Olympics which was achieved and from there, the zeal to make every squad to the Olympics continued till I made it to Rio 2016. So, I hope to continue to inspire the younger players in the national team with my wealth of experience,” said the four-time African champion.

Toriola, who hit the headlines at the 2014 Commonwealth Games when he recorded a 41-rally shot against Singapore’s Gao Ning, also got to the second round of the men’s singles event at Rio 2016 before his exit.

He had created an upset when he sent 79th world rated Czech Republic’s Dimitrij Prokopcov packing with a 4-2 scoreline at the Riocentro Pavilion 3, before he lost to the 22nd world ranked Koki Niwa.

The table tennis legend also featured alongside Aruna Quadri and Bode Abiodun in the team’s event of Rio 2016 where Team Nigeria lost 0-3 to Team China.

Toriola ranked 120th in the world, was described as a global brand by the ITTF president, Thomas Wiekert, during the reception held in his honour in Rio to celebrate his seventh appearance at the Olympics.